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Geneva show: China’s Qoros teases all-new models

Q mark: This teaser image shows the first wave of Qoros models coming from the studio of former Mini chief designer Gert Hildebrand, including a sedan and two SUVs.

Qoros Auto set for major export push but no Aussie launch soon, despite testing here

8 Nov 2012

A NEW Chinese motor vehicle brand with great expectations for western markets – Qoros – is preparing to unveil its first model at the Geneva motor show in March, ahead of the small sedan’s launch in Europe and China later in 2013.

A 50:50 joint venture established in 2007 between Chery Automobile and investment firm Israel Corporation, Qoros Auto conducted hot-weather testing and other validation work in Australia (Mount Isa) earlier this year for the still-to-be-named four-door, which is nearing the end of its international development program.

With former Jaguar Land Rover chief engineer Peter Matkin in charge of vehicle programs, the company claims to have engineered the vehicle to meet high international quality, environmental and safety standards, including meeting the requirements for a five-star European NCAP crash-test rating.

It has also promised the sedan, developed under the codename ‘C11’, will showcase a new design language “inspired by modern European tastes” – the work of former Mini chief designer Gert Hildebrand – and will offer interior room more akin to a mid-size (D-segment) sedan than those in the ‘C’ class.

 center imageFrom top: Teaser images of Qoros Qoros testing in Australia.

An Australian launch is not on the horizon, with no right-hand-drive production initially from Qoros Auto’s assembly plant under construction at Changshu in Jiangsu Province, which is slated for an annual output of 150,000 units but will have a maximum capacity of 450,000 vehicles.

However, Australian Chery importer Ateco Automotive has not ruled out the prospect of the brand – which has larger models including at least two SUVs in development, as well as electrified powertrains – coming here sometime down the track.

Reports from the UK indicate that right-hook production is expected to kick off in 2016.

Issuing preliminary details and teaser photographs this week, Qoros said its products were primarily aimed at “discerning young buyers in China and Europe” and that it was supported by a number of global suppliers, including Magna Steyr, TRW, Continental, Bosch, Valeo, Microsoft and Iconmobile.

Technical specifications and details of the vehicle platform are still to be revealed, with the company saying only that the range will be based on “an advanced, modular architecture”.

“This unique architecture will enable the rapid rollout of a range of models and variants, including the introduction of hybrid and electric vehicles,” the company said.

“New variants are expected to be launched almost every half year.” Overseas reports indicate that the sedan will be launched with a 1.6-litre turbo-petrol engine with the choice of a six-speed manual or dual-clutch automatic transmission. A hatchback body style is expected to appear in the first half of 2014.

After its debut in Geneva, the four-door will be presented at the Shanghai motor show in April, with sales in both Europe and China expected to commence in the final quarter. Middle Eastern markets will follow soon after.

Backed by capital of 3.5 billion yuan ($A537 million) sourced largely from financial institutions in China, Qoros Auto is led by chairman Guo Qian, who is also chief operating officer of Chery Group Co, while vice-chairman Volker Steinwascher is a former executive vice-president of Volkswagen of America.

“We have integrated the best of both worlds in a unique business model, one which sets a benchmark for the international auto industry, especially in China,” Mr Steinwascher said.

“We have 100 per cent control and ownership of our brand, our design and the use of technologies, without having to make compromises.

“We are a new company without any legacy or previous history, which gives us a great advantage because we are starting from scratch with a clean sheet of paper.

“By recruiting experts in all the essential fields of our operation, we can create a globally competitive product and service network that is designed to fit the lifestyles of modern metropolitan customers.” Other senior managers include vehicle integration boss Roger Malkusson (former vehicle integration chief for GM’s Pan-Asia Technical Automotive Centre and an ex-Saab chief engineer) and quality chief Ralf Nicolas (former Opel program quality director).

Chief operating officer Xingcha Fan also has an Australian connection, having obtained a PhD in computer science from Flinders University.

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